They’re cute, they’re cuddly and they’re vicious. Koala bears might not be known for their attacks, but their sharp claws and strong teeth show that the only thing soft about this marsupial is its fur.If you come across one of these critters in the wild it’s best to keep your distance, or they may become aggressive. And once you trigger this angry fluffball, it will come at you with all it’s got. Including its pee.

Koalas aren’t the biggest mammals out there. Females only weigh about 5 kg (11 lb) and males 6.5 kg (14 lb), but they aren’t afraid to bite, scratch and even pee on you. They can be quite dangerous when they feel threatened. In 2006, people broke into an Australian zoo in hopes of stealing a koala. The fuzzy thing put up such a good fight that the robbers decided it was easier to steal a 40 kg (90 lb) crocodile instead.

What should you do if a koala latches onto you? Which piece of clothing could protect you from their claws? How could you get a sexually transmitted infection (STI) from a koala?

Step 1. Don’t Be Noisy

They might look like the perfect cuddle buddy, but koalas don’t like being handled or put on display. Loud noises can also contribute to their stress, which can cause them to feel vulnerable and irritated. Koalas like to sleep a lot. They have about 22 hours of beauty sleep per day, so it might be easy to think that they won’t be affected by human presence, but that’s not true. Their vigilant behavior increases when you’re within a 5 m (16 ft) radius, and trust me, you don’t want to put them on alert mode.

Step 2. Stay Away From Their Pee

Those claws aren’t the only dangerous things about these mammals. If you come in contact with their urine, you can contract an STI. It is estimated that up to 80% of koalas in the wild are infected with chlamydia, which can cause blindness, infertility and severe inflammation of the urinary tract. Not all koalas carry the strain that is transmissible to humans but just in case, never let a koala pee on you.

Step 3. Dress for the Occasion

If you’re going to be wandering around those eucalyptus trees that koalas love, you better dress properly. Their razor-sharp claws are perfect for climbing. In koala territory, you never know when one might act out by swiping at you unexpectedly. Wearing thick clothing like long pants and a jacket will offer you an extra layer of protection for your skin.

Step 4. Pry Them Off

You survived their claws and pee, but now you have to watch out for that extremely strong jaw and sharp teeth that they won’t hesitate to use against you to inflict serious injury. Once a koala bites you, it won’t let go on its own. You’ll have to forcefully pry its mouth open to free yourself or the person you’re helping. In 2022, a family walking in the bush crossed paths with a koala. The animal charged at a small child, pounced and refused to let go. The vicious attack ended when a man managed to pry the koala off the boy.

Step 5. Watch Your Dog

While you find your dog adorable, koalas don’t. Your pet can be rather curious and come too close to the wild animal, triggering their defensive nature and initiating an attack. The best way to prevent your beloved Fido from ticking off one of these creatures is to keep it on a leash in koala territory. Koalas aren’t the only cuddly-looking creatures than can kill you. This pair of eyes look so harmless and innocent, but don’t let that cute face be a distraction from the deadly venom that is awaiting you with one single bite.

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